Crolla signs off with points win in final fight
Irish star Katie Taylor created even more history earlier this evening as she outpointed Greece’s Christina Linardatou to land the WBO Super-Lightweight World title on an emotional night at Manchester Arena as local hero Anthony Crolla called time on his memorable career by beating Frank Urquiaga.
Taylor boxed and moved stylishly for large spells of her highly-anticipated debut at 140lbs and, despite suffering a nasty cut early on in the bout, earned a unanimous 96-94, 97-93 and 97-93 win to become only the third Irish boxer to win World titles in two weight classes.
“I’m making history again,” said an emotional Taylor after her fight. “I’m breaking boundaries again and I’m a two-weight World Champion – and there’s still more to come. I thought I boxed beautifully on the outside and I didn’t get sucked into a fight.”
Crolla grounded out a hard-fought majority decision over Spain’s Urquiaga as he ended his 13-year professional career at the arena it began back in 2006. The Mancunian favourite enjoyed a raucous ring walk on his big farewell fight as he did enough for a 95-95 98-92 97-93 majority decision.
Speaking after his fight Crolla said: “Getting the win was the main thing but now I know my time’s up. I wasn’t nervous coming into the arena but it did get to me a bit when I came out here – knowing it was for the last time.
“Hopefully I’ve left a bit of a legacy. And I’ll be back in the gym training the youngsters and hopefully some of the champions of the future.”
Felix Cash stopped Middleweight rival Jack Cullen to retain his Commonwealth crown in a Fight of the Year contender earlier in the night. The Wokingham talent forced an impressive stoppage in the eighth round to settle a thrilling toe-to-toe battle that had the crowd on their feet throughout.
Denaby’s Terri Harper celebrated her 23rd birthday in style as she defeated tough Brazilian Viviane Obenauf on points in a successful first defence of her IBO Super-Featherweight World title. ‘Belter’ produced a polished performance on her Matchroom debut to claim a unanimous decision over Obenauf and keep on course for a showdown with WBC World Champion Eva Wahlstrom early next year.
Heavyweight hope Martin Bakole continued his impressive run of form, defeating USA’s Rodney Hernandez inside two rounds to claim his second stoppage win in the space of a fortnight and progress to 15-1 (12 KOs). The Billy Nelson-trained talent wasted no time as he landed hurtful hooks to the body and head before finishing the job in round two.
“To stop two American guys in a few weeks is amazing for me,” the Congo Heavyweight told Sky Sports afterwards. “My corner told me this guy will give me a hard time, but I knew he would not be able to take my power. I’m looking forward to next year.”
Leeds Super-Bantamweight Qais Ashfaq turned in the best performance of his blossoming eight-fight career to win the vacant WBA Continental title against Glasgow’s Joe Ham. The southpaw impressed in his first title win before the fight was stopped prematurely by an accidental clash of heads in round seven. Ashfaq won the belt with scores of 69-64, 70-64 and 70-63.
Another Leeds Super-Bantamweight Hopey Price made a perfect start to life in the professional ranks with a comfortable 40-36 points win over Joe Sanchez, rising Sheffield Super-Lightweight talent Dalton Smith moved to 4-0 by forcing a third round stoppage against Michael Isaac Carrero, Birmingham’s Gamal Yafai returned in style by stopping Lee Clayton in three and ‘The Naytrix’ Nathan Farrell opened proceedings with a four round decision over Ivica Gogosevic.